Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

MLAs voice their determination not to see democracy derailed

Some at Stormont call it the ‘car wash’. And staff inside have their own nicknames, including ‘the Fridge’.

But yesterday, the glass-surrounded security hut just down the first incline from Parliament Buildings seemed different, somehow transformed.

Up to now the squat structure — built in the aftermath of the Michael Stone attack — had been primarily a nuisance.

But context, in politics as perhaps everything else, is everything.

On the first Assembly day following the deaths of the first soldiers killed by republican terrorists in 12 years the hut seemed not only necessary, but essential.

Inside the Assembly chamber the mood was unsurprisingly sombre. Normal business had been suspended to allow MLAs to voice their shock, sympathy and assurances that politics must be seen to work — and their project will not be derailed.

One by one the leaders of all the political parties spoke with both dignity and indignation and walked the tightrope to raise the issues which the Antrim atrocity means their respective communities must now face.

It was positive that Peter Robinson warned against party politics and |significant that Gerry Adams said Sinn Fein would go “toe to toe” in their community to talk to anyone who wants to take the province back to the past.

It was important that Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey warn any |loyalist groups considering the re-|introduction of retaliation: “desist” and noteworthy that Progressive Unionist Dawn Purvis linked the double deaths to international women’s day: two mothers lost their sons.

MLAs then went back to the ordinary business of the day, no-one batting an ironic eyelid that the first item was consideration stage of the Presumption of Death Bill.

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